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Heat up the Gridiron

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By Indrek Kongats

It’s football season once again and fans have already started up their tailgate grills. I’m excited. Aren’t you?

Everyone has a favorite team, whether it’s your grandson’s Pee Wee Eagles, or your gang’s favorite professional squad. The neat thing about Ellicottville is that on any given Sunday in the fall we might have fans arriving from three different states and two different countries bringing their enthusiastic, if not fanatical, behavior onto our quiet streets and backyards, exploding into choruses of back-slapping hoorays.

Who let the cats out? We have Tiger-Cats fans baring claws with Bengals fans over whose league plays real football, on a real football field, with no silly fair catch rule.  We have the Browns, Steelers, Bills, Giants, Eagles and Argonauts fans celebrating or drowning their sorrow in their favorite establishment. Ellicottville has enough eateries with big screens and screaming fans that we could probably pass The Cap in capacity.

Let’s not forget our homegrown protégées that made it big or could have. The Southern Tier could have its own Pro Bowl. I asked good friend Virgil Dunham for a list of all the local greats. Dunham coached Randolph High School football and remembers the name of every player – stars like Marvin Hubbard from Randolph who played for the Oakland Raiders, Chuck Crist from Salamanca who played for the Giants and of course Bills’ Shane Conlan from Frewsburg. Coach Dunham also recalls a time when playing himself that he split a new-fangled plastic helmet in half after a crunching tackle and had to revert back to the proven leather one.

On Friday, Sept. 9, the combined 1-0 Ellicottville-Franklinville High School Varsity team takes on county rivals 0-1 Catt-Little Valley in Franklinville with a 7 p.m. kick off. While you are enjoying action under the Friday night lights, keep your eyes on players like junior tight end Sam Erickson or senior quarterback Caleb Palmatier.

In local college football action, we have the 0-1 Alfred State Pioneers in action on Saturday, Sept 10 vs. the 0-1 Brockport Golden Eagles at Alfred.

The game of football is not just for the players. It is for all of us who want an escape from our everyday responsibilities and our daily grind. It’s what grandparents live for and parents push for, hoping, that starting at an early enough age, it does become a job – maybe not as a professional football player but maybe as a high school coach, trainer, sports writer or, if successful enough, another Terry Pegula.

Ellicottville has one of the most unique mosaics of fans from different cultures, classes and political beliefs in North America, and what better place to enjoy the game of football and stumble across a Hall of Famer?  So the next time you are in town you might ask the guy beside you for his autograph. Who knows? It might be Jim Kelly or the Mighty Hercules himself, Angelo Mosca!

Finally, for the extra point, I want to pass on to you my “favourite” or “favorite” (depending on which language you speak) tailgate recipe:

Coach K’s Tailgate Wraps

CFL Blitz Wrap

This is great during a Canadian weather blitz. Grilled Canadian bacon is wrapped and pinned with toothpick, snuggled with an over-easy egg, cheddar cheese, grilled hash brown, dressed with diced sweet onion and doused with pure Canadian maple syrup. Cover with more maple syrup.

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

30 cm whole wheat tortilla

1 thick slice of Canadian bacon (Canadian bacon is really peameal bacon and comes in a half round, 5 – 8 cm diameter, cut it in slices with the grain. You might ask your cross-border buddy to smuggle in a kilo or two next time in town. Just kidding!)

1 jumbo egg, brown or white.

1 pre-cooked hash brown

1 slice cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon diced sweet onion

Pure Canadian maple syrup sold in cans imported from Quebec

Toothpick

Directions:

Cook egg over easy and place on upper 2/3 of tortilla in the center of the grilled bacon slice. Add cheese slice and grilled hash brown, sprinkle with diced onion and douse with maple syrup. Turn up lower 1/3 of tortilla and overlap sides, pin with a toothpick without poking yoke, leave top open, dribble in more Canadian maple syrup. Tackle with piping hot Muskoka’s Lumberjack coffee.

The NFL Red Zone Wrap is great to incite your team to a touchdown. Follow the instructions above but substitute a 12” corn tortilla, suicide boneless chicken wings in place of Canadian bacon and scramble the egg. Then add pepper jack cheese. Use hot salsa in place of maple syrup but be sure to include the hash brown and sweet onions. For added measure, dribble in Tabasco sauce. Block heat with a light ice cold beverage of choice.

Hand one off to your best friend and enjoy!

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